Pittsburgh International Airport Microgrid Wins Prestigious 2024 Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award for Environmental Innovation Written 28 February 2024


Award recognizes innovative microgrid project as PIT leads industry’s sustainability efforts

2024 Speas Award PIT Airport

Pittsburgh International Airport, winner of the 2024 Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award

February 28, 2024 – Reston, Va. – The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) congratulates Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) as the winner of the 2024 Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award for the creation of its cost-saving and emissions-reducing airport microgrid project.

The Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award honors an individual or individuals judged to have contributed most significantly in recent years to the enhancement of relationships between airports and/or heliports and other surrounding environments via exemplary innovation that might be replicated elsewhere. The award is cosponsored by AIAA, the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE), and the Airport Consultants Council (ACC).

Paul Hoback, Executive Vice President and Chief Development Officer, and John Bevilacqua, Electrical Engineering Project Manager, at Pittsburgh International Airport, will accept the 2024 Jay Hollingsworth Speas Airport Award during the awards luncheon on 6 March at the 2024 AAAE/ACC Airport Planning, Design, and Construction Symposium in Salt Lake City, Utah.

PIT’s first-of-its-kind airport microgrid became fully operational in summer 2021, providing a complete electric power source for the PIT terminal and campus in the event of an outage that affects the traditional grid – propelling the airport into a world leadership role in the transition to clean energy.

Built in partnership with People’s Natural Gas, IMG Energy Solutions and CNX, the microgrid is fueled by natural gas and nearly 10,000 solar panels built atop a capped landfill, land otherwise unusable for development. PIT is planning to double the size of the solar array in the future. By utilizing cleaner energy, the microgrid provides a yearly carbon reduction of more than 6 million pounds and saved the airport and its partners more than $1 million annually. The microgrid was built at no cost to the airport, constructed and funded entirely by private sources.

The unique system is inspiring change across the world, drawing numerous international delegations eager to see it in operation during the first-ever Global Clean Energy Action Forum, which was held in Pittsburgh in 2022. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is now examining its utilization of capped landfill space as part of a review of other similar opportunities to redevelop land.

PIT’s microgrid has been studied by government and business leaders from around the world as PIT has hosted several airports and airlines to examine the facility. Airports in the country have since announced their own microgrid plans while others are examining similar options. The microgrid makes PIT one of the most resilient airports in the world while significantly increasing sustainability. The project has received several national and local awards and has been written about extensively in both local and national press, including Forbes magazine.

About AAAE
Founded in 1928, AAAE is the world's largest professional organization representing the individuals who work at public-use commercial and general aviation airports. AAAE's 10,000 members represent over 960 airports and hundreds of companies and organizations that support the airport industry. Headquartered in Alexandria, Va., AAAE serves its membership through results-oriented representation in Washington, D.C., and delivers a wide range of industry services and professional development opportunities, including training, conferences, and a highly respected accreditation program. aaae.org 

About ACC
The Airport Consultants Council (ACC) is the global trade association that represents private businesses involved in the development and operation of airports and their related facilities. Part of ACC’s mission is to inform its members of new trends while promoting fair competition and procurement practices that protect the industry’s bottom line. acconline.org

About AIAA 
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is the world’s largest aerospace technical society. With nearly 30,000 individual members from 91 countries, and 100 corporate members, AIAA brings together industry, academia, and government to advance engineering and science in aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit www.aiaa.org, and follow AIAA on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

About Pittsburgh International Airport
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) serves approximately 10 million passengers annually and is a key economic driver for the region, reflecting and serving the community, inspiring the industry, and advancing the region’s role as a world leader. PIT’s new terminal, scheduled to open in 2025, will transform the passenger experience and showcase the region’s thriving economy as its new front door. PIT has recently won numerous international awards including being named by Fast Company magazine as One of the Most Innovative Companies in the World as well as a finalist in Accessible Design. Future Travel Experience named PIT a winner in its Pioneer innovation awards, and PIT’s first-of-its-kind microgrid has garnered numerous accolades for resiliency and sustainability. For more information visit www.flypittsburgh.com.

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